Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Altar Devotional

Set three candles in a row on your altar. If you do not have an altar, or are not near it, envision three candles in a row. Count down into a meditative state, and light the first candle.

Bide the Wiccan Law ye must,
In Perfect Love and Perfect Trust,
Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill,
An' ye harm none, do what ye will.

What ye send forth comes back to thee,
So ever mind the Law of Three,
Follow this with mind and heart,
Merry ye meet and merry ye part.

Light the second candle.

I swear, today and every day, to strive toward the Thirteen Goals of the Witch; to know my Self, to know my Craft, to Learn, to apply knowledge with wisdom, to achieve balance, to keep my words in good order, to keep my thoughts in good order, to celebrate life, to attune with the cycles of the Earth, to breathe and eat correctly, to exercise my body, to meditate, and to honor the Goddess and the God.

Light the third candle.

I swear, today and every day, to make the Four Agreements with myself; to be impeccable with my word, to not take anything personally, to not make assumptions, and to always do my best.

Make the sign of the invoking pentagram, and envision its light surrounding you.

So Mote It Be.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Samhain 2013

This year, my Samhain ritual was more last minute than usual. I hadn't written out or researched anything in advance, and had loaned the book containing the ritual I intended to perform to my boyfriend, Storm. I got off work later than expected, and my living room (aka ritual space) was a disaster, thanks to the boxes I've still never unpacked, containing tons of old junk mail and sales reports from my time at the now-defunct bookstore corporation. I got home perhaps half an hour before Storm arrived, sans book, and I was completely overwhelmed at trying to shove everything off in the bedroom to be dealt with later. I nearly threw out all the ritual plans entirely and went to bed. Between the disastrous apartment, working long hours at work due to a recent promotion (yay!) and the overall malaise I've felt for the past couple of years, it just felt like too much to handle.

However, the last time I held a Sabbat ritual was last Samhain, and with the recent loss of my beautiful grandmother, a time to honor the dead felt more necessary than ever. Altar decked with black candles and a photograph of my grandparents, I cast a simple circle and called to their spirits, then succumbed completely to grief and tears. I finally let out everything I'd been holding in, telling them how much they taught me, how much they meant to me, how much I miss them, and perhaps most important, how lost I felt without them. They were always the first people I called to talk about anything big going on in my life, and not being able to talk about my promotion, my impending divorce, and even about losing them, has been difficult.

When my tears were spent, I sat for a while, and Storm stepped to the altar, asking his guides, the Otter and the Raven, to keep an eye on my grandparents' spirits. It was his turn to tear up, and he looked at me and said, "they're okay." He pressed his Otter figurine into my hands, and I was guided to the place it is the spirits of my grandparents are resting. I had what can only be described as a moment of communion with them, and was left with just one impression: it is time to let go. It was then that I realized the absolute truth of something I have told others over the years, and something I said at Grandma's funeral two months ago. So long as we keep our memories close, and remember the lessons we were taught, those who were closest to us are never really gone. But we have to keep going, because the world doesn't stop for us.

But that lesson doesn't just apply to the dead. I realized I have been holding on to so much that was lost, emotionally, mentally, and physically, that I've been weighted down, unable to move on or focus on what I need to do for my own sake. Since the ritual, mention or thought of my grandparents, and Grandma in particular, hasn't left me choking back sobs mid-sentence. That's not how they want me to be. Do I miss them? Of course, but that's better handled by telling their stories than it is by crying at the thought of them.

The weight it's lifted from my shoulders has helped motivate me to take care of a lot of other necessary cleansing in my life, too. Boxes and boxes of old papers, run through the shredder or burned, pared down to only the things I actually need to keep, or items of particular sentimental value or interest. Regular burning of sage to cleanse the dense energy vibrations in my apartment. Finally catching up on my dishes. Organizing my book collection. Daily meditation and affirmations.

Samhain, in many ways, is about the end of the year's cycle, but this year for me, it has been about ending so many unhealthy cycles I had built up around myself. This is a time for cleansing, and healing. As the Witch's New Year has begun, and we build toward the start of the Light Half of the Year at Yule, I've been left with a lot to think on, not least of which my devotion to the Craft. For the first time in a long time, I truly feel in tune with the cycle of the earth. And of all people, I have my Grandma to thank for that one last lesson.

Blessèd Be,

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Back to Basics

It's funny how often we can let things slide. Time has a way of getting away from us if we aren't watching it, and the next thing you know, it's been a week, a month, a year. Whether it's calling your mother, writing a letter to a friend, or even something as simple as cleaning up around the apartment, if you don't make a regular habit of reminding yourself to do things, suddenly they've piled sky-high. A magickal practice, and the various things that go with it, can fall by the wayside just as easily, but they can also be immensely helpful in combating these tendencies, if proper attention is paid to them.

One of the things Christopher Penczak teaches in The Inner Temple of Witchcraft is that journaling is a very important, and useful practice. It encourages introspection and thoughtfulness; it also allows us to look back at a situation later and see who and where we were as a person at that point in our life. I've started and stopped keeping a journal countless times. As I began this journey again, I decided to continue using a past journal (in no small part because it's a very pretty journal), and before writing my first entry, I looked back at the previous ones there. Between this, and other journals, I have entries from 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and now 2013. In all cases, the days I kept to the practice came in bursts, and were sporadic. Particularly interesting to me, is that as I think back, I know that many of the times where I did not keep a journal were at relatively low points in my mental and emotional state. By extension, once I stopped, I usually didn't pick up the journal again until several months had passed, or a year in some cases (two years, this time), when I decided to "try again" with my magickal practice.

Each new start was marked with an entry talking about how this time would be different than all those other times. This time I would succeed. This time I wasn't going to stop in the middle, forget about my practice, give up, and start again a few months later. Most of the entries fall between November and February, so already, this whole "studying Witchcraft in April" thing is new. In other words, this is the first time it's really been different, and there are a number of factors contributing to it. Chief among them, I live alone now, and am in pretty much every way the sole person responsible for my success or failure on any level. On the one hand, that provides an added layer of stress, but on the other hand, it also gives me a space that is entirely mine to do with as I will. My altar and tools are my own, and I am able to make the space specifically comfortable for my own practice. I have also been dating someone who is directly supportive of my practice, by way of actually doing it along with me. Having someone else who is reading the same materials, doing the same meditations and exercises, and is generally on the same path, is very motivating.

It's also particularly helpful that if I fall behind at all, he doesn't let me berate myself about it, but instead gently encourages me to pick up where I left off. As it turns out, I'm not really built for solitary practice, but with someone else to be guided by, and also to guide, I have a lot more focus. At the same time that he's going through Inner Temple with me, he is also focusing on his own studies of Gipsy lore, and if you have any interest in that, he's started his own blog, here.

So, once again, I find myself coming back to the disciplines that form the foundation of magickal practice: journaling, daily meditation, basic energy work. But another thing that's different is finally realizing that the state of my surroundings has a very direct correlation to the state of my practice, and for that matter, to my emotional state in general. It occurred to me that in all of the stories and fantasy novels I've read about a wizard's apprentice, or a young witch, or a novice of the Aes Sedai, there has been one common thread: they are all required to spend much of their day doing menial tasks around the place of their education. What if, rather than being about the master having far more important things to do, it's actually about making certain the student fully understands how to take care of themselves once they are out on their own? Making certain they can keep their space tidy enough not to clutter their mind with worries about all the things that need to be done.

I've been thoroughly cleaning and re-organizing my apartment, clearing out old papers and files I don't need any more, and generally opening up the space. The less clutter there is, the easier the process becomes, and the less time it takes to do each daily or weekly task. The less overwhelmed I feel with the mundane things I must do every day, the more free I feel to engage in my magickal studies, which as it turns out, are essentially about doing the same things on an inner level that I'm doing on an outer level. I'm beginning to finally understand what Penczak means by, "...if you choose the path of the witch, you may not necessarily be doing spells and rituals all the time, but you will undeniably be doing magick. Magick is a part of each breath we take and every action we make."

If you put yourself in the right mindset, cleaning the house, washing dishes, and doing laundry can be as much an act of magick as a Samhain ritual. Talk about getting back to basics.

Monday, April 1, 2013

New Blog, New Approach

Lately, I've been getting back into my magickal studies, once again turning to Christopher Penczak's wonderful book, The Inner Temple of Witchcraft: Magick, Meditation, and Psychic Development, as a guide. I've been working through the book and the exercises with my boyfriend, and have finally taken up the process of journaling and taking notes on the text. I've decided to start this blog, dedicated entirely to my magickal development, as a space to write my thoughts on the things I've learned, and hopefully to invite discussion about the individual topics and techniques I am studying. My intention is for this to be updated weekly, at minimum, though I hope to update more frequently even than that, if time allows.

Hopefully, this will also allow me to focus my other blog entirely on my writing, and other things going on in my life.